Chalk Florida up as the latest power program to extend their reach down below the high school ranks. The Gators have made a scholarship offer to an eighth grader, the first of what will likely be many for the teen in the years ahead.
As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Florida football staffer Ryan Smith extended a scholarship offer to Deland, Fla. middle schooler Avantae “Tae” Williams on Wednesday. The Deland Middle School eighth grader is already 6-foot, 170 pounds and stands out as a safety and running back. He could pay either at the next level, precisely because it’s still so early its hard to tell where he’ll make the most sense on the field.
“He told me I was a good athlete and to just keep my nose clean and stay in the books and keep up my GPA,” Williams told the Sentinel. … “I really have faith in Florida because that’s the first team to offer me, so I believe they believe in me the most. It’s loyalty. They were the first, they’re solid and they’re 100 percent honest.”
Williams said he didn’t expect to receive a scholarship offer so soon, but also expressed confidence in his own ability to grow from his current place in the football landscape by continuing to do what he has so far.
“I don’t think a lot of people believed in me, but when I got the offer my name blew up,” he said. “It’s like a whole bunch of fame, but I’m handling it in a professional way. I’m going to continue to do what I do and not let anything throw me off track. … stay in school, stay focused and keep working on the field. Stay to myself.
“I feel like I’m just blessed.”
He’s been blessed by Florida, and will probably be similarly blessed by plenty of other top programs in the near future. The world is his oyster, even though he’s nearly four years away from his chance to sign on the dotted line for his college program of choice.
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter: @camsmithsports